HORSE’S MOUTH: About Hawaiian Steak

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By GEORGE YOSHINAGA

In a recent column I wrote about how I came to be introduced to Spam, the canned meat. It was on a trip to Hawaii when I first experienced eating Spam because it was so popular in the Islands.

Well, as a follow-up, I received a letter from a former resident of Hawaii who forwarded some interesting information about Spam that I was not aware of.

He entitled his letter “Why Do Hawaiians Love Spam so Much?” It reads:

“My dad grew up on Maui and even though our family was raised in Virginia, we always kept Spam in the pantry. My dad would eat Spam with fried eggs and rice — breakfast, lunch, dinner, didn’t matter what time of day it was.

“As a child, I attributed my father’s love of Spam to his pedestrian food knowledge. But it turns out he is not alone. Hawaii consumes more Spam than any other state in the union. A total of seven million cans a year.

“According to the Spam website, the Islands’ love affair with Spam began in World War II, when GIs were served the salty luncheon meat because it didn’t require refrigeration and had a long shelf life.

“The Hormel Corporation, which manufactures Spam, provided 15 million cans to Allied troops every week. Between 1941 and 1945, Hormel had shipped over 100 million pounds to troops overseas.

“Though the name Spam is a shortened version of ‘spiced ham,’ Army soldiers would often refer to it as a “special Army meal.”

“Surpluses of Spam made their way from soldiers’ supplies into native diets throughout the Pacific. To this day, Hawaiians love Spam musubi, a sushi-style slice of Spam served with rice and seaweed, Spam fried rice, and my dad’s favorite, Spam and eggs.

“Spam is so popular throughout Hawaii that it’s been nicknamed ‘Hawaiian steak’ and is even found on the Islands’ McDonald’s and Burger King menus.

“During the last week of April each year, the annual Spam Jam takes place in Waikiki. And before taking office, Hawaii’s most prominent native son, President Barack Obama, surprised reporters when he ordered Spam musubi while on vacation on Oahu.

“But Hawaii isn’t alone. In the territory of Guam, each person consumes 16 cans of Spam a year on the average. In the United Kingdom, Spam is served buttered and deep-fried. In Hong Kong, Spam is eaten with instant noodles. As a result of the Korean War, Koreans enjoy Spam kimbap, seawood rolls filled with rice and vegetables.

“Has Spam found its way into your diet? Here are a few places where one can order Spam musubi: Aloha Cafe and King’s Hawaiian in Los Angeles and Torrance; Paradise Hawaiian Barbecue in Phoenix; Kauai Family Restaurant in Seattle; Aloha Hawaiian Food in Des Moines, Iowa; Ate-Oh-Ate Hawaiian Restaurant in Portland, Oregon; The Sushi Place in Baltimore, Maryland; and Makana in New York City.”

All l could mutter when I saw the above was “wow.”

Never thought Spam musubi would ever become so widespread after I enjoyed my first one so many years ago when I was visiting Maui. (Yeah, my wife, who was born and  raised on Maui, introduced me to Spam musubi).

One of the reasons I am thankful that The Rafu allows me to continue writing my column is that as a media person I receive invitations to so many community events.

As we get older we don’t get out as much, and if it weren’t for being with The Rafu, I guess I wouldn’t get out at all.

The reason I enjoy attending Japanese community events is that it gives me an opportunity to meet old friends whom I would never have a chance to see if I stayed at home glued to my TV set.

I guess I can refer to it with the old Japanese phrase “tanoshimi.”

This past week I even sat at the same table with these “old” friends. “Old” not only in the length of time we’ve known each other but in our ages.

Consider this. While I am in my late 80s, most of these friends are older than I.

Oh well…

Old friend Iku Kiriyama sent me a press release about a forum being held on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 3:30 p.m. at the Katy Geissert Civic Center in Torrance with the title “No-No Boys & Renunciants — Loyal or Disloyal?”

At the forum, speakers will touch on those who signed “no-no” on a questionnaire passed out at the relocation center. They will give their views on why they signed “no-no.”

I wonder if they’ll throw me out if I go to the forum since I have an entirely different view on the issue.

I was in Heart Mountain, where three of the so-called “no-no boys” were friends of mine from Mountain View, where we lived before evacuation.

Needless to say, we discussed the questionnaire when we got together.

Their reason for responding “no-no” had nothing to do with “loyalty” and they weren’t shipped off to Tule Lake, which seems to be what most people thought happened to them.

The group of “no-no boys” from Heart Mountain was sent to a prison in the state of Washington.

I’ve never seen any news release about them being sent to prison.

They tried to urge me to sign “no-no” while I tried to make them sign “yes-yes.”

If they did indeed sign “yes-yes,” they would have landed in the U.S. Army as I did, which they felt was a crazy thing to do.

Maybe it was because when the war ended, they were all released from camp and returned to their prewar homes, which was about eight months before those of us who served in the military were able to regain our civilian status. So, they were pretty much settled down and living a civilian life.

I didn’t go back to Mountain View but decided to settle in Los Angeles, where I had a tough time making a living because so many vets were returning about the same time and jobs were hard to find.

Ditto for enrolling in college. So many vets using the G.I. Bill were enrolling in college, and I found that most schools were filled up.

Oh well, enuff said. I’ll attend the “no-no” forum, but as I said, they may throw me out.

As most have guessed, as a TV fan, I didn’t turn on my set the other night when almost every channel carried the presidential debate.

Well, at least one channel carried the Detroit Tigers vs. San Francisco Giants American League baseball playoff game.

I know a lot of you will say, “Why didn’t you watch the debate?”

Well, since my mind is made up as to whom I am going to vote for, watching Romney and Obama arguing against each other would be a waste of time.

There is so much political junk arriving in my mailbox, including the local campaign for the State Assembly seat between Al Muratsuchi and Craig Huey.

One of the points each candidate want to push is how much money each is spending in trying to win the election.

Muratsuchi has raised much more money than Huey, reportedly over a million dollars.

Needless to say, this is a Republican (Huey) vs. Democrat (Muratsuchi) race, which gives the Nisei an edge.

For one thing, the 66th Assembly District has a heavy Japanese American voting population, so I’m sure it will play a key role in the outcome.

I guess that’s why we get so much junk mail in our box. My wife is a registered Democrat and I’m a registered Republican, so we get mail from both sides. Heck, I have to dig through the pile just to find my copy of The Rafu.

Oh well…

When I a letter from Bob Nagamoto in the last column, I asked what his brother’s name was. The brother was an MIS graduate from Fort Snelling and served with the occupation forces in Japan after the war ended. I had not printed his name.

At any rate, Bob wrote:

My late brother’s name was Tech Sergeant Kenneth Kenichi Nagamoto and he graduated in the class of May 1945 from Fort Snelling MIS.

“In Tokyo he worked with ATIS and was billeted at the NYK Building.”

Maybe I met him because I lived in the NYK Building before I was transferred to a military unit in southern Japan.

Bob added: “Your article from Alan Dash from Boise, Idaho, was fascinating. My close college buddy also lives in Boise and I forwarded your column to him. He is a retired radiologist from Long Beach.”

Thanks for your letter, Bob. Maybe your college buddy can look up my nephew who lives in Boise. His name is Murakami.

Aw, what the heck. I’m going to toss in another letter from a rather disgruntled reader. It’s about using his name so I won’t mention it in printing this one. He wrote:

“Yoshinaga-san, you disappointed me. I requested not to print my name but you have gone overboard and printed everything. Taihen meiwaku.

“You can print the many letters I send you but again, please don’t print my name as the sender. I don’t have the talent to make up the jokes I send you but I merely refer the ones that I think are good for general consumption. Besides, some of the things I wrote were either edited by you or your typist. Mata kore wa meiwaku desu.”

No, if there are any changes, Maggie, the typist, is not responsible. She only retypes everything I submit to her.

(Maggie’s comment: Thank you, Mr. Y., for standing in my corner.)

Gosh, the next contribution from a reader makes me feel old.

It’s a letter from an 88-year-old woman who still drives her own car to her granddaughter:

“Dear Granddaughter,

“The other day I went to our local Christian bookstore and saw a  ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ bumper sticker.

“I was feeling particularly sassy that day because I had just come from a thrilling choir performance followed by a thunderous prayer meeting. So I bought the sticker and put it on my bumper.

“Boy, am I glad I did. What an uplifting experience that followed.

“I was stopped at a red light at a busy intersection, just lost in thought about the Lord and how good He is, and I didn’t notice that the light had changed.

“It is a good thing someone loves Jesus because if he hadn’t honked I’d never have noticed.

“I found that lots of people love Jesus. While I was sitting there, the guy behind me started honking like crazy and then he leaned out of his window and screamed, ‘For the love of God! Go, go, go, Jesus Christ, go!’

“What an exuberant cheerleader he was for Jesus!

“Everyone started honking. I just leaned out of my window and started waving and smiling at all those loving people.

“I even honked my horn a few times to share in the love. There must have been a man from Florida back there because I heard him yelling something about a ‘sunny beach.’

“I saw another guy waving in a funny way with only his middle finger stuck up in the air.

“I asked my young teenage grandson in the back seat what that meant.

“He said it was probably a Hawaiian good-luck sign or something.

“Well, I have never met anyone from Hawaii, so I leaned out the window and gave him the good-luck sign right back.

“My grandson burst out laughing. Why, even he was enjoying this religious experience.

“A couple of the people were so caught up in the joy of the moment they got out of their cars and started walking towards me.

“I bet they wanted to pray or ask what church I attended, but this is when I noticed the light had changed.

“So, grinning, I waved at all my brothers and sisters and drove on through the intersection.

“I noticed that I was the only car that got through the intersection before the light changed again and felt kind of sad that I had to leave all of them after all the love we had shared.

“So I slowed down the car, leaned out the window and gave them all the Hawaiian good-luck sign one last time as I drove away. Praise the Lord for such wonderful people.

“Love, Grandma.”

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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